To many players, two minor-league games at the tail end of a season without playoff hopes might seem meaningless.
To Zach Redmond, they were huge.
The Traverse City native and Winnipeg defenseman signed a new one-year contract with the Jets this weekend. Both Redmond and the team hope they’ll see the same player who looked NHL-ready for eight Jets games before a freak practice accident in which a teammate’s skate slashed his femoral artery on Feb. 21. Even after the immediate life-threatening considerations were past, the injury led many to assume his season — or even career — was over.
Instead, Redmond put in his rehab time and ended up playing in two games for the Ice Caps — Winnipeg’s American Hockey League affiliate — in the team’s final series of the season against the Toronto Marlies.
Getting those games under his belt is a big relief for Redmond. Instead of going through an entire off-season worrying about whether he’ll be able to handle game action, and then again in training camp, he’s comfortable with how he was able to play in the pair of contests.
“They went good,” Redmond said. “It was definitely good to get a couple in before the end of the year, to prove to yourself that you can still play. It’s something so you don’t have to worry about it over the summer.”
He started on the top defense pairing in his April 19 return to the ice, and then played again two days later.
Redmond says he needs no further rehabilitation on the injured leg.
“I’m cleared, completely back to normal,” Redmond said. “Nothing has changed from the routine from last summer. I’m focusing as little more on other parts of my legs this summer, but that’s not something I have to do. It’s just something I think will benefit from getting stronger.”